Training Workers to Build Green Infrastructure in the District of Columbia and Maryland


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Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Graphic on Clean Water Infrastructure
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Graphic on Clean Water Infrastructure

Guest blog post by Michelle Kokolis, Anacostia Executive Watershed Manager, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Stormwater runoff is becoming the primary source of new pollution entering the Washington, DC area rivers and streams. Without better control, sediments and the nutrients they carry could undo much of the water quality improvements from controlling combined sewer overflows, and cleaning up toxics in the Anacostia River. In response, localities are being held to increasingly strong  discharge load limits, and over the next decade, are expected to spend upwards of $10 billion on stormwater management.

To meet these clean water needs, local governments and businesses are increasingly turning to green infrastructure, which provides widespread environmental benefits, creates local jobs, and stimulates the regional economy. However, to build and maintain what is essentially a new infrastructure of controls, the region will need a workforce with the proper training and credentialing, earning a living wage, to build, maintain, and monitor stormwater management projects.  

How will we get the trained workers needed to fill these jobs?

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) is working with the Communities that Work Partnership (CTWP) to address this current and future skill and talent need. Through CTWP, COG is partnering with the Aspen Institute, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, and Anacostia Waterfront Trust. 

This core project team is also collaborating with the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, DC Water, the Water Environment Federation, the Workforce Investment Council, Corvias Solutions, the Low Impact Development Center, Prince George’s Green, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center, the Center for Watershed Protection, and others to meet this workforce challenge.

The team identified five key objectives: 1) Coordinate stormwater workforce credentialing and certification efforts; 2) Complete a labor market demand analysis; 3) Develop job descriptions/career ladders; 4) Increase the contractor/subcontractor supply, and 5) Provide a recruitment, training, and placement pipeline for workers.

Due to the unique needs in the Anacostia River Watershe, COG and the CTWP are focused on the District of Columbia, and Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland. The most notable progress has been made in the coordination of credentialing, certification, and training programs.

Workforce training providers identified a large unknown that prevent them from knowing when to increase training to stormwater and green infrastructure worker: when will workers be needed and what will the needed job proficiencies be? This will depend on the scope and schedule of stormwater project implementation. 

The project team developed a scope of work for a study of both a labor market analysis and development of standardized job descriptions. The analysis will answer the questions regarding the magnitude, timing, and distribution needs of workers trained in the construction, installation, and maintenance of green infrastructure projects over the next 10 years by looking at public sector demands driven by the DC, Montgomery County and Prince George’s MS4 permits, and private sector demands driven by development and re-development standards.

We look forward to seeing thousands more stormwater control projects in the ground served by a cadre of workers making living wages.

This guest blog is a part of the CTWP series celebrating collaboration across seven U.S. communities.

This blog also is a part of a monthly series highlighting the contributions of the Commerce Department’s agencies to the Open for Business Agenda. This month’s focus is on Skills for Business.


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Last updated: 2016-12-09 10:33

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